Ethnic interests and national ideology during Israel’s first decade: Addressing the rational Oriental vote

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Abstract

The article offers an empirical foundation through which the electoral behaviour of the new Oriental immigrants into Israel during the 1950s can be interpreted, based on the assumption that their conduct was, in fact, rational. It focuses on the egalitarian wage policy in the important public sector, which led Ben-Gurion and the leaders of Israel's first ruling party, MAPAI, to a confrontation with the European academically educated middle class, and on the political–electoral strategy of MAPAI vis-à-vis the Oriental immigrants during the 1950s electoral campaigns. The article discusses three assumptions: first, that this wage policy was part of the ruling party’s attempt to address the interests of the new Oriental working class; second, that this political strategy was publicly discussed, and it addressed the Oriental immigrants’ rational socio-economic calculations for the purpose of securing their political and electoral support; third, that the leaders of nascent Israel and its ruling party presented this policy as a measure towards creating a minimal socio-economic foundation for the process of nation-building during the 1950s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-252
Number of pages15
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2018

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